On Tuesday, June 20th, the Firestorm team released Firestorm 18.104.22.168912.
This is something of a maintenance update than a major feature release, covering as it does the more recent updates from Linden Lab – the improved region and parcel access controls, updated Trash behaviour to try to help control risks of inventory loss, custom folders for uploads, the avatar complexity updates, and a host of smaller fixes and tweaks.
Most of these have been adopted directly from the Lab’s code, others – such as the avatar complexity updates – have been folded-in to existing capabilities in Firestorm. There are also numerous updates and improvements from the Firestorm team as well.
In keeping with my usual approach to Firestorm releases, what follows is not an in-depth review of everything new / updated in version 22.214.171.124912, but rather an overview, highlighting some of the more significant / interesting changes, updates and fixes, which I feel will be of most interest to users.
For details of all changes, and all due credits to contributors, etc., please refer to the official release notes.
The Before We Begin
There is no need to perform a clean install with this release if you do not wish to.
Do, however, make sure you back-up all your settings safely so you can restore them after installing 5.0.7.
Major Lab Derived Updates
Firestorm 5.0.7 brings the viewer up to parity with the Lab’s 5.0.5 code base. So, as noted, this release supports the updated region and parcel access controls, the latest avatar rendering updates, custom upload folders, etc..
Updated Region / Parcel Access Controls
The updated region / parcel access controls, introduced by Linden Lab in May 2017 mean that when a region holder / manager explicitly sets a region for open access to visitors (via the Region / Estate floater), parcel holders on the region can no longer override the setting at the parcel level and create ban lines around their parcel (although they can still use the parcel ban list and scripted security systems if they wish and subject to any covenant).
These updates mean that both the Estate tab in the Region / Estate floater has been updated, and the behaviour of the Access tab in the About Land floater has changed.
In the case of the Estate tab in the Region / Estate floater, the check box Allow Public Access has been removed, and a new option, Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive, has been added (see below).
By default, Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive is checked, which means that parcel owners should see no difference in behaviour for their parcels unless an estate holder / manager opts to make changes at the estate level.
Should the option be unchecked, the estate holder / manager making the change will receive a warning that they are about to make a change that could affect parcel settings in the estate:
To set the change, the region holder / manager must then clear the warning (OK) and click the Apply button on the Region / Estate floater – failure to do so will leave the option unchanged.
UNCHECKING the option will result in two things happening at the parcel level:
Parcel owners will receive a new system notification for every parcel in the region they hold which has been affected by the change:
Any previously active banlines around affected parcel will be removed, and parcel owners will no longer be able to set parcel access restrictions via About Land > Access, as the options to do so will be greyed out:
If a region which previously allowed parcel holders to set their own access restrictions is set to public access (by unchecking Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive and clicking APPLY), and then is reverted again (by checking Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive and clicking APPLY), all parcels on the region will revert to the access settings applied to them before any changes to region access were made at the estate level.
Trash Behaviour Changes
To try to help with inventory losses through accidental deletion of objects which have mistakenly been moved to Trash, the Maintenance RC viewer has the following Trash related behaviour changes:
The prompt displayed when you have over 5K items in Trash is amended to show the trash folder when you’re ready to purge it, and before you can purge it.
Backspace will now only delete on Mac systems (as it’s the only option available), it will no longer delete on windows.
The purging Trash notification now gives a count of items in Trash.
The “Are you sure you want to delete this thing” warning will be seen at least once per session.
Note: Firestorm have included a debug setting to disable the trash purging warning – FSDontNagWhenPurging. This is set to FALSE by default (the warning will be displayed). It is recommended you do not change this setting unless you have complete confidence that you are unlikely to accidentally purge wanted items from trash / you viewer is unlikely to incorrectly move folders to your Trash.
Further to my recent report, the Firestorm mirror download sites are now available, and Firestorm’s primary server has been stabilised.
With the assistance of Linden Lab, through the work of Second Life Technical Director Oz Linden and his team, one of these sites is hosted via Linden Lab, the other is a service established by the Firestorm team. All links are provided below.
Commenting on the Lab’s offer of support with the issue, Jessica Lyon, the Firestorm project lead said, “Ever since Ebbe Linden came into power we have seen huge advancements in not just features, functionality and improvements in Second Life, but also in customer relations and collaboration with their user-base.”
She continued, “Yesterday we found ourselves in a real crunch with this Bento release due to demand, and staff at Linden Lab really stepped up to help us out. They very quickly offered to set-up a mirror host, and provide downloads on their server. Even the Grid Status page was updated to point to the links!
“We thought the demand for this Firestorm update was unprecedented, but Linden jumping to help out a third-party viewer in this big of a way has absolutely been more so. If this doesn’t demonstrate to everyone just how dedicated Linden Lab is to its customers, then perhaps nothing will.
“Thank you Oz, Grumpity, April, Steven, Landon, Derrick, Alexa and all the other Lindens who were involved in this effort. You guys really came through for us and your customers!”
With the provisioning of the mirror sites and with the main Firestorm server now stabilised, hopefully the worst of the crisis is over, and Firestorm users will be able to access the new release through either the main download link, or through the mirror site links, given below. However, Jessica and the team still ask that people not all rush at once and tempt fate!
I’d also like to add my thanks to Oz, Grumpity and the team at the Lab for stepping in and providing this support.
Mirror Download Links
Please ensure you download Firestorm 5.0.1 only from the Firestorm main download page, or via the links given below. No guarantee of security can be made if using any other download location when obtaining the viewer.
Update, 11:23 SLT, Wednesday, December 14th: The mirror sites are now available – the links are available here.
On Tuesday, December 13th, Firestorm released the much-anticipated Bento update, Firestorm 5.0.1 – which you can read about here.
HOWEVER, such has been the demand for the update, the Firestorm servers have been overloaded, a situation which has left Firestorm without the ability to provide their download and web services.
“This is an unprecedented situation for us,” Jessica Lyon, the Firestorm project lead informed me. “While we have had download problems in the past, we’ve never seen demand on this scale before. It’s repeatedly taken all our servers off-line with the load.”
Because of the demand is preventing people from even accessing the Firestorm web services – the blog, JIRA, etc., – the Firestorm team is asking that people hold-off if they cannot obtain a download or access the Firestorm website, and not to keep repeatedly trying.
Jessica added, “Please, just be patient. Our servers need the breathing space. We are working on adding additional capacity to meet the demand trough mirror sites, but this does take time. When we have these up and running, we’ll let people know through the in-world Firestorm support groups and social media.”
In the meantime, and in an attempt to alleviate the lack of downloads, some people have placed the Firestorm 5.0.1 installers on cloud servers, dropboxes, and other network file sources. While the effort to help meet the download demand is appreciated, the Firestorm team ask that people do not do this, but to wait until Firestorm’s own mirrors are up and running.
“With the best will in the world, not all networked download sites are secure, and there is a chance that by going to some, users could inadvertently expose themselves to the risk of viruses or Trojans,” Jessica said. “At the end of the day, we can only guarantee our download service and its mirrors are secure, and we’d prefer that people wait a little while, rather than expose themselves to any such risk.
“Again, we will notify people via the in-world support groups as the situation improves, and also via Twitter and any other medium we can use.”
Following the unprecedented demand for Firestorm 5.0.1 (see here for details), formal mirror sites are now available. When downloading Firestorm 5.0.1, please ensure you use with either the Firestorm download page or one of the mirror site links. Please do not source your copy of Firestorm from elsewhere. The mirror site download links are available here.
On Tuesday, December 13th, the Firestorm team released Firestorm 126.96.36.199150 – the new version number both reflecting the inclusion of the Lab’s Project Bento code and also bringing Firestorm more into line with the Lab’s own viewer version numbering, which the latter has been gently requesting for some time now.
As well as Bento, the release includes almost all the latest code updates and improvements from Linden Lab, and a lot of new nips and tucks from the Firestorm team and via contributions from other parties.
In keeping with my usual approach to Firestorm releases, what follows is not an in-depth review of version 188.8.131.52150, but rather an overview, highlighting some of the more significant / interesting changes, updates and fixes, which I feel will be of most interest to users.
For full details of all changes, and all due credits to contributors, etc., please refer to the official release notes. Note that this release means that Firestorm version 4.7.5 will be blocked in around three weeks time.
The Before We Begin
There is no need to perform a clean install with this release if you do not wish to.
You should, however, remove your existing version of Firestorm before installing 5.0.1.
Before removing your current version, make sure you back-up all your settings safely so you can restore them after installing 5.0.1.
Lab Derived Updates
Firestorm 5.0.1 brings the viewer up to parity with the Lab’s 5.0 code base, which means this release supports the new Bento skeleton enhancements plus VLC media capabilities, the Visual Outfits Browser (VOB), a range of fixes and improvements and some upstream additions from the most recent Maintenance RC.
Bento Avatar Skeleton Enhancements
As most people are aware, Project Bento is a collaborative project between the Lab and content creators to improve and enhance the Second Life avatar skeleton in order to better support mesh avatars (Bento does not work with the Second Life system avatar). It adds numerous new bones to the avatar skeleton, allowing easier creation and animation of things like additional wings and limbs, and offers the opportunity for greater facial animations with mesh heads and faces, and even finger manipulation on mesh hands.
In addition, Bento provides a set of new attachment points to work with the new joints – however, the overall limit of the number of attachments you can wear at any one time remains 38 (including HUDs).
Most of all of this work is entirely under-the-hood. However, there are two additions to the avatar right-click context menu for both your own and other avatars: Reset Skeleton and Reset Skeleton And Animations, which should be noted.
These options have been added because sometimes, when changing between one mesh avatar and another, the basic SL avatar can become deformed, resulting in it looking squished, stretched, caught between two looks, or something else. This problem is generally the result of race conditions when the avatar’s appearance is being updated, and both of these buttons are intended to correct the problem – the option to reset animations being intended to fix deformations which may be due to animations also kicking-in incorrectly / at the wrong time as well, which may cause an avatar to deform.
Note than anyone not using a Bento-capable viewer will see Bento avatars “deformed” or “melted” and will also see any attachments using the new Bento attach points rendered in the avatar’s chest.
Further information on Bento can be found via the following links:
If you attach a HUD which makes heavy / excessive use of large textures and which, as a result, can impact your system’s performance, the viewer will display a warning to indicate the problem and which names the HUD. It will naturally fade after a set time has passed.
Visual Outfits Browser
The Visual Outfits Browser (VOB) allows you to use the Appearance floater to capture / upload / select images of your outfits and save them against the outfits in a new Outfit Gallery tab within the floater. It can be accessed by either right-clicking your avatar and selecting Change Outfit or Edit Outfit > Click the left arrow at the top of the floater or via Avatar > Appearance / CTRL-O, then
The tab displays all of your created outfits as a series of folder icons, each one with the name of the outfit beneath it. You can replace these icons with an image of the outfit quickly and easily in one of three ways:
You can wear the outfit, then right-click on its associated folder icon and select Take a Snapshot. This will open the snapshot floater with save to inventory selected by default, allowing you to photograph yourself wearing the outfit and upload the image to SL, where it automatically replaces the folder icon for the outfit
You can use Upload Photo to upload an image of the outfit your previously saved to your hard drive, and have it replace the folder icon
You can use Select Photo to select any image previously saved to your inventory (including any image supplied with the outfit in question, if appropriate), and use that to replace the folder icon for the outfit.
Any outfit within the gallery can be worn (Add to or Replace current outfit) and removed via the right-click context menu, which also includes options to create / delete new outfits, and to create new system clothing items / body parts.
When using the capability there are a number of points to keep in mind:
Both the Take a Snapshot and the Upload Photo options will incur the L$10 upload fee, with the images themselves saved in your Textures folder
In all three cases, link to the original images are placed in the outfit folder
VOB only works for outfits you’ve created using the Appearance floater / the Outfits tab. It doesn’t work for any other folders where you might have outfits – such is the Clothing folder.
QuickTime has been replaced with LibVLC support for the Windows and Linux versions of the viewer. This is due to Apple discontinuing QuickTime for Windows while leaving vulnerabilities unpatched. see QuickTime for Windows: “uninstall today”.
Other Lab Updates of Note
The viewer is now DPI aware on Windows 8.1+. This fixes the problems with tiny font size & user interface size on high-resolution monitors on Windows 8.1 and above. The UI Scaling is now be automatically set to the correct value for the system at viewer launch. The maximum UI scaling setting has also been raised as follows:
Windows 7: 2.0.
Windows 8.1: 2.5.
Windows 10: 4.5.
Improvements to the region “Object Bonus” setting – see BUG-11913.
A time stamp has been added to Help > About floater.
A fix to prevent editing marketplace listings before inventory has fully fetched causing listings to be unlisted – see BUG-11804.
A fix for resetting scripts via the build menu no longer works on many scripted objects – see BUG-20086.
A new alert has been added, warning if too much inventory is in coalesced objects.
PERMISSION_DEBIT notification now defaults to Deny, to to help prevent accidental granting of debit permissions (see below).
Notable Preferences updates are:
Move and View: new option to re-render temporary derendered objects after teleport or after end of session/manual re-rendering via the asset blacklist floater: Re-Render Temporary Derendered Objects After Teleport (see also Asset Blacklist Updates, below).
Privacy > General: New option to log auto-accepted inventory to nearby chat (requires Automatically Accept New Inventory Items to be enabled).
User Interface > Font: new font option: Noto.
Avatar Render Settings
Unlike the official viewer, the avatar render settings you apply to individual avatars will persist across log-ins, so if you set an avatar to Do Not Render, that avatar will only render as a grey imposter until such time as you right-click on them again and select either Render Normally (e.g. fully or as a Jelly Doll, depending on your Complexity Setting), or Render Fully, so they will always render in your view, no matter what your Maximum Complexity setting.
With Firestorm 5.0.1 you can track those avatars you’ve set to either always render fully or to never render (other than as a grey imposter) using World > Avatar Render Settings. This displays a floater listing all the avatars you’ve applied a render setting to as either Fully or Never. Right-clicking on an avatar’s name (or using SHIFT-click / CTRL-click for multiple selections) will display a pop-up menu, allowing you to change the current setting for the selected avatar(s). You can also right-click on an avatar’s name and then click the information icon just to the left of their render setting to display their profile.
Asset Blacklist Updates
The Asset Blacklist (World > Asset Blacklist) has a number of improvements:
Temporarily blocked objects are now shown in the blacklist floater so they can be removed.
A fix has been added to prevent crashing when leaving an area where many objects were blacklisted.
A Preferences option has been added to re-render temporary derendered objects after teleport or after end of session/manual re-rendering via the asset blacklist floater: Preferences > Move & View > View > Re-Render Temporary Derendered Objects after Teleport.
A Clear Temporary button has been added to the blacklist floater to clear all temporary derendered objects.
Graphics Presets Now Global
Graphics presets (a Linden Lab capability introduced into Firestorm with the 4.7.9 release) are now treated as a Global setting, rather than a Per-Account setting. This means that presets can be set from the log-in splash screen without actually logging-in to the viewer, and helps ensures consistent presentation of the current preset setting. However, it also means that any existing presets either have to be re-created, or need to be manually copied from the per-account settings folder to the global user_settings folder. See FIRE-19810.
There is currently (at the time of writing) an issue in messaging between the simulator and the viewer during region crossings (physical or teleports), which can result in attachments being detached or, harder to detect, attachments being removed server-side, but remaining visible (but effectively ghosted) in your view, and which cannot be individually removed, as the simulator doesn’t recognise them as being there.
A common cause for this problem is multiple items using the same attachment point – which can be a major issue with things like rigged meshes, which then to be set to attach to something like the right hand. Thus, a way to solve this is to move multiple attachments using the same point elsewhere – in the case of rigged mesh, this should be relatively simple, as it will retain its orientation and position relative to your body no matter where it is attached.
The Lab is still investigating this problem. However, in an attempt to help mitigate it, Firestorm have implemented two new debug settings in Firestorm 5.0.1:
FSExperimentalLostAttachmentsFix: enabled by default, this triggers an attempt by the viewer to correctly resync what it believes to be your attachments with the simulator’s understanding of what you have attached, and either prevent items being unexpected removed, or items being removed, but remaining ghosted in your view, etc.
FSExperimentalLostAttachmentsFixReport: this option is disabled be default to prevent message spamming on your screen. When enabled, it reports any attachments which the simulator attempted to incorrectly detach during a teleport or region crossing to nearby chat.
RLVa (Restrained Love) Updates
For the full list of RLVa updates, please refer to the release notes. However, the following are worth highlighting:
RLVa restrictions can be sorted in ascending / descending order via RLVa > Restrictions and clicking on the Restrictions header
RLVa can be toggled on / off from the viewer log-in splash screen without the need to re-start the viewer on doing so.
Building and Scripting
Mesh uploads should no longer fail from a folder with Unicode characters in the name (FIRE-19806 and BUG-37632), and clicking on a link in a script dialogue should no longer open it as a SLurl rather than launching a web browser (FIRE-20054).
In addition, the LSL preprocessor has the following improvements:
The “Preprocessed” text window of the preprocessor is no longer editable.
Line and column are now shown on the “Preprocessed” tab.
Context menu items and button which are unavailable are properly disabled.
Actions for context menu items and for buttons are performed on the active tab (if action is available) instead of always on the possibly hidden editor tab.
The Search / Replace and Goto Line floaters now work on the active tab instead of always on the possibly hidden editor tab.
Other Updates of Note
An FPS meter has been added to the viewer status bar, with a seconds count also added to the status bar clock (top right corner of the viewer
64-bit CEF for Windows x64 in now built as native 64-bit plug-in; no more QuickTime
The custom payment message is now also sent in-world with the payment instead of only being visible in transaction history
Your own avatar’s attachments should now appear in the correct locations when in Mouselook (FIRE-10574 and BUG-1408)
CTRL-F will now focus the local search editor of a window if available – can be disabled through the Debug setting FSSelectLocalSearchEditorOnShortcut to FALSE
Comma separators added to the avatar complexity notification (so 1,456,897 appears as such, rather than 1456897)
A refresh button has been added to the texture preview window when viewing people’s profile pictures, group insignia, textures in inventory, etc, to overcome issues of the image failing to render in the preview (FIRE-20150)
A Copy SLurl to Clipboard option has been added to the right-click context menu when clicking on a group name – this copies the group’s URI to the clipboard (FIRE-20146)
Clicking a group URI should now put focus on an already open and maximised group profile.
Flickr upload fixes:
Direct snapshot uploads to Flickr should no longer upload multiple copies (FIRE-20026)
Flickr upload time-out increased to 5 minutes
Uploader now checks std:string.max_size() before appending image data to avoid buffer overrun (FIRE-20094)
Setting Home location should no longer fail on OpenSim grids (FIRE-19894)
Legacy search results list items should now be selectable under all circumstances in Inworldz (FIRE-19912).
Firestorm 184.108.40.206150 brings Firestorm bang-slap up-to-date with the Lab’s own viewer, something the Firestorm team have been striving to achieve for the past couple of years, so kudos to all concerned.
With the inclusion of Bento, this release now means all those making use of the most recent releases of all currently maintained viewers can now correctly render Bento products – so it will be interesting to see how the Bento market for mesh avatars (human or otherwise) now develops.
A side benefit with Bento is that during testing, a good number of preview and beta testers reported an overall improvement in viewer performance – potentially more than can be put down to a purely placebo effect. I run a reasonably high-end system, but have witnessed a step up in average frame rates on our home island / region when compared to 4.7.9 (which also brought something of an improvement for me), and have found some regions I’ve traditionally had problems with (FPS down in the teens with the bells and whistles on) also behaving better.
5.0.1 has, for me, so far been the most stable of all the recent Firestorm releases – not that I tend to have major issues (just oddball ones!). So, as Christmas presents go, this release certainly fills the stocking nicely!